Rob Reiner has directed many great actors in his movies over the years, but there’s one performance that still sticks out to him: Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men.
On the latest episode of PeopleTV’s Couch Surfing, host Lola Ogunnaike brought up Reiner’s 1992 film, in which Nicholson plays the arrogant and corrupt Colonel Nathan Jessup. The scene everyone remembers is, of course, the courtroom climax, in which Tom Cruise’s character gets Jessup to admit to the crime at the heart of the film. As Nicholson thunders dramatically, the camera moves around the courtroom to get reaction shots from Cruise, Demi Moore, and Kevin Bacon, among others. Reiner told Nicholson he could dial it down when the camera wasn’t on him, but the iconic actor refused.
“Every single time off camera, he gave the exact same performance as you’re seeing now,” Reiner told Ogunnaike as they watched the scene. “We did it five, six, seven times, and I kept saying, ‘Jack, why don’t you save a little bit for when we come around?’ He said (impersonating Nicholson), ‘You don’t understand Rob, I love to act. And I don’t get that much of a chance with great parts like this.’ It was exactly the same performance.”
Watch the full clip above.